Empire is Fox's No. 1 new show due in large part to Henson's captivating performance as the scorned ex-wife of music mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), who returns to town after a 17-year jail stint to claim a stake in the entertainment empire she helped launch.
"She's the truth. She is the walking truth!" Henson said when asked what draws viewers to Cookie. "She spent 17 years living with some of the most horrible humans on earth. She has nothing to lose."
Fans immediately embraced Cookie for her honesty and fearlessness.
"You can't scare her," Henson said. "She's not scared of anything or anyone."
Some of Cookie's straight-talking lends itself to salty language. Henson admitted that she wasn't sure that she'd be able to get away with some of her character's lines on a broadcast network.
"I was like, 'Are they really letting us say that on Fox?'" the 2009 Oscar nominee said. "I stopped asking after day two. I just say it."
Along with the main cast (which includes newcomers Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Gray), Empire has also featured notable guest stars like Cuba Gooding Jr., Naomi Campbell and Gabourey Sidibe. On Tuesday the show announced that Jennifer Hudson and Rita Ora would also be making appearances on the hit hip-hop drama this season.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. And in case you needed another reason to watch, tonight viewers find out what happens when Cookie gets tricked.